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Dog Coats

Dog Coats – You know you’re a dog lover when there’s a variety of doggy coats and jackets hanging next your own coats and jackets!

With the exception of the handful of hairless breeds, nature has provided most dogs with their own handsome fur coats. Some are short and sparse, while others are long, thick and heavy with dense undercoats, but in general nature’s coverings are usually adequate to protect your dog from a cold and wet world. However, for those hairless dogs, for those whose fur is a little too thin, for aging or shorn dogs, or for those times when the cold or wet is just too much for even the most well-furred dog, the extra protection a dog coat provides can be not only nice, but necessary for your dog’s well being.

Since many of our dogs look so well protected in their natural fur coats, most people never consider that they too could benefit from protective dog clothing. There are times when the cold weather or sharp thorns penetrate even the thickest of coats.

Just like us, if our dogs are left unprotected for extended periods of time in the cold, they can suffer the chilling effects of the elements losing their body heat at an accelerated rate.

A good fit is essential. Dog clothing like a dog coat must fit well so that it will remain securely in place throughout an active day of hunting or hiking. The coat that you choose must be designed to keep your dog warm while providing protection from wind and rain.

And if you choose a dog coat that covers the underside of your dog, make sure that it’s designed to give your dog enough room to do his business.

Dog clothing designed for the active hound should allow your dog to enjoy a full range of motion. So make sure the leg openings will not restrict your dog’s movement.

Also, look for garments designed with clean lines that are less likely to get caught on things. A well-fitting garment designed for the shape of your particular breed is best.

In addition to just keeping warm, another reason for getting your dog a coat is protection from the elements: rain and snow, dust and dirt. Many dog coats are waterproof and reversible. If your dog doesn’t get wet or dirty, you don’t need to clean or dry him. If he has sensitive skin, a coat can help to protect him and prevent skin irritation. There are even cooling coats, designed to help your dog cool down after a workout, especially helpful for dogs with short noses who suffer more from the heat, and coats that reflect harmful rays from the sun so he’s not too warm.

Benefits of Dog Coats:

– Reduces amount of dog hair and dander left on carpet, furniture, bedding and clothes
– Decreases amount of dirt, stickers, fleas and ticks left in home by dogs
– Keeps dogs clean
– Reduces the number of stickers/burrs in fur
– Reduces the number of fleas jumping onto dogs
– Reduces likelihood of ticks latching on
– Reduces dog’s exposure to biting insects
– Keeps fur from matting due to snow or mud
– May reduce risk of skin cancer
– Keeps dog’s coat clean and protected. In many cases, reduces grooming time.
– During rehabilitation helps keep dogs from bothering/irritating wounds, stitches, rashes and medicated areas located on body and legs. Ideal for dogs with allergies.
– Reduces amount of dog hair, dander, dirt, stickers/burrs, and fleas left in your vehicles.

And in addition to the many practicalities, dressing your dog up in a stylish coat can be just plain fun. Whatever your reasons if you have decided your dog needs a coat, you are fortunate as there is a large variety from which to choose – basic protection to designer chic. You’ll find there are almost as many styles and types of coats for your dog as there are for you, so you should have no trouble finding something to suit your tastes and your dog’s needs.

Dog coats are made of a wide variety of materials. Possible yarns and fabrics include:

Natural fibers
Natural fibers are cotton, wool, linen, hemp, ramie, jute and silk. Cotton, even heavy cotton, does not provide a lot of warmth and so is more suitable for a jacket or light cover that will protect your pet while keeping him cool. Wool on the other hand, which describes any fiber made from animal coats, is very warm, with the added benefit of being able to retain its warmth even while wet. Linen, silk and the other natural fibers are more suitable for designer styles than practical wear.

Some examples of fabrics made of natural fibers are
– Shearling wool which is really leather from a lamb or sheep, with the wool still attached.
– Leather and Suede
– Corduroy is a cut pile fabric with vertical ribs, usually made of cotton.
– Canvas is a very heavy duty woven fabric that will stand up to a lot of wear.
– Lambsdown, a heavy knitted wool fabric, that has a napped fleece on one side
– Flannel is a soft napped fabric of either wool or cotton
– Felt is a very dense fabric made by entangling and pressing fibers together rather than knitting or weaving them.
– Worsted describes both a very tightly twisted wool yarn, and the fabric which is made from it, whether knitted or woven.
– Denim is the jeans fabric
– Terrycloth is a looped pile fabric, usually cotton
– Wax finish woven cotton is a waterproof type of cotton fabric

Synthetic fibers
Synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester, acrylic, and rayon are very commonly used for clothing, including dog coats. Other specialty fabrics, fiberglass for example, or olefin, vinyon or sulfar, are unlikely to be used for this purpose. However, some fire retardant fabrics might be useful for particular dogs and situations, as is spandex or Lycra, a stretch type of fabric, and some soft plastics or vinyls for rain gear.

Examples of commonly used synthetic fabrics include:

– Fake or faux furs are usually made of acrylic, and come in an incredible variety, some almost indistinguishable from real fur. You can find minx, rabbit, fox, beaver and other traditional fur types, as well as “fun furs” that don’t pretend to look natural, but come in a rainbow of colors and range from long and shaggy, to short and curly.
– Polartec� fleece is made of polyester, but its patented construction is such that it provides a very lightweight, but dense, windproof, and sometimes waterproof barrier against the elements.
– Fleece is a generic term referring to any thick, deep pile fabric, but is most commonly made of acrylic.
– Nomex is a fire retardant fabric commonly used for flight suits or firefighters’ attire.
– Nylon is an especially useful fabric, as it can be very densely woven to produce an exceptionally durable fabric, as well as rubberized, or otherwise treated to make it waterproof, and therefore suitable for rain wear.

Blends are just that – blends of both natural and synthetic fibers. Blends can incorporate the attributes of two or more different fibers at the same time. For instance a nylon/spandex blend has the durability of nylon as well as the stretch of spandex. A wool/polyester blend combines the warmth of wool with the easy care of polyester. Polyurethane is commonly used to coat fabrics of various types in order to make them waterproof.

Combinations have several different fabrics combined in the same coat. For example, one style has a nylon outer shell, with polyfill insulation, and a plush fleece lining. Rain coats typically have a waterproof outer shell with a soft cotton or other fabric lining. Some fancy coats combine an elegant velvet or silk fabric body with faux fur trim.

– Rain slickers
– Cotton sun protection coat with ties
– Towelling coats after a bath or in the car when the dog is wet. Ideal for after wet, muddy walks and swimming. The coats will warm and dry the dog quickly, helping to prevent stiff joints and wet furniture.
– Thick fleece coat suitable for walking or sleeping in kennel
– Greyhound numbered track coats
– Reflective dog coats have reflective on the side and front for extra safety
– Jackets that cover the top of the dog’s back with a tie around the belly
– Hooded parkas
– Rain and snow repellent winter coats with a warm lining for dryness. These are designed in the same style as a traditional horse blanket, with criss-crossing straps and adjustable neck ensures

Knitted or crocheted styles of dog coats are often referred to as dog sweaters, while those made of various types of woven and other fabrics can include sweatshirts, jackets, heavy coats, and fully tailored body suits.

Dog coats come in one of three main styles. The most basic is a semi-fitted piece of fabric that covers your dog’s back, with a band that fastens around the front of his chest and another that goes under his belly. Then there are more fully fitted coats that not only cover the back and chest, but come down around the sides, covering most of the dog’s body. And then there are complete suits that cover the dog fully, including all four of his legs. All these styles also are available either with or without hoods. The hooded types have a hole for the leash to pass through. Style variations include:

– Snap or button coats have snaps (or buttons) to fasten a band of fabric across the chest and under the belly.
– Belted coats have a belt that fastens over the dog’s back and under his belly with a standard belt buckle, or Velcro straps, as well as buckles or Velcro to fasten a fabric band across the chest. There’s a variation of this style that looks like a miniaturized horse blanket, with nylon straps and chrome buckles.
– Zippered coats fasten up the back or belly with a zipper, and may either have a band across the chest, or sleeves for the front legs.

Novelty Coats
– Electric dog coats are showing up in Finland, which has a problem with wolves eating domestic dogs. These coats are designed to deliver a 1,000 volt shock to a hungry wolf, while protecting the dog inside who will feel no pain.
– Cooling coats are made of terrycloth or some other absorbent material, and are wet before putting on the dog. Cooling is by evaporation.
– Licensed merchandise includes dog coats sporting logos of well known cartoons, movies, television shows, sports events, stars or teams, even brands of cars or motorcycles such as Dodge Ram or Harley-Davidson.
– Costume themed coats are available for your dog, allowing you to keep him warm while dressing him up as a zebra or tiger, or perhaps a cow or giraffe, maybe even a robot or alien from outer space. You can even dress your dog up in a Santa suit for Christmas or as the Easter Bunny or Uncle Sam
– Reflective dog coats give your dog greater visibility in dim light or darkness
– Camouflage coats, or military or bomber-style jackets are popular choices.

Dog Body Suits also called Trouser Suits and All-in-One Suits
Dog body suits cover your dog completely. Some styles cover the entire dog, with sleeves for his legs and a hole for his tail, with openings for him to go to the bathroom. Others leave his rump and tail hanging out, while covering his chest, back, belly and legs. Some come with hoods.

– Spandex or Lycra body suits fit very snugly yet are breathable and move with your dog. – Jogging suits are usually made of a lightweight knitted fabric or fleece and have a looser fit than the spandex suits.
– Snow suits are made of either extra heavy fabric, or consist of an outer shell with an inner liner, sometimes with a middle insulating layer. Most fit snugly around the bottom of the legs and around the neck by means of ribbed cuffs, zippers, elastic or all three.
– Rain suits are similar to snow suits except they are not as heavy, and the outer layer is rubberized, coated with polyurethane, or made of vinyl or some other waterproof material.

As with many other items of apparel or merchandise, there are well-known brands of dog coats. Some examples include:

Brands for All Dogs
– Burberry is a well known UK brand, and is usually carried by high end stores. This company makes a complete line of stylish dog accessories, including fashionable coats and sweaters.
– Driza-Bone, the name of an Australian company that makes weatherproof gear for both two-legged and four-legged creatures.
– Foggy Mountain dog coats are made in the US, and the line includes heavy duty “turnout” coats, as well as a lush fur-trimmed velvet formal coat and other fancy duds.

Breed Specific Brands
– Kellings Dog Coats could also be listed above, as they make standard sized dog coats, including camo and reflective. But they specialize in breed-specific coats, especially coats for Greyhounds, Whippets, and Italian Greyhounds.
– House of Marley coats are made to fit the distinctive wide-chested, narrow-hipped physique of Pugs
– Spoiled Yorkies specializes in apparel and coats for Yorkshire Terriers and other toy breeds.

Dog coats come in ready made and custom made, and you can also purchase patterns to sew, knit or crochet yourself. Whichever you choose, you’ll need to measure your dog for the best fit.

Most dog coat suppliers require you to measure only the length of your dog’s back, from the base of his collarbone to the base of his tail, and round off to the nearest inch, which will give a round number corresponding to size from 8-20. Standard dog coat sizes have a girth that is approximately proportional to the length. However, unusually slender dogs, such as Greyhounds or Whippets, or exceptionally stocky ones like St. Bernards may not be well fitted in a standard size and will need a custom coat, whether made by you or someone else.

Regardless of whether you purchase a standard size, or have a coat custom made, taking a complete set of measurements will ensure you have the information you need for the best fit for your dog.

To measure for a coat it is necessary to have the dog standing. You won’t get accurate measurements if the dog is sitting or lying down.

Use a cloth tape measure. Lay the tape measure along the dog’s body to get accurate measurements. When measuring around the neck or chest the tape should be snug but not tight. When measuring from the base of the neck to the base of the tail allow the tape measure to lay along the natural curves of the dog’s body. For the length, one of the most important measurements, measure the backbone of the dog from the base of the neck to the start of the tail. That’s the start of the tail – not the very tip. Just the base of the dog’s back where the tail starts. Start the neck measurement where the collar would sit naturally on the pet’s back.

A complete set of measurements will include:

1. Neck Circumference – measure around the neck at base of collar.
2. Topline Length – measure from base of collar to base of tail, laying tape measure along back.
3. Chest Circumference – measure around largest part of chest 1/2″ behind the front legs. This is the thickest part of the chest.
4. Neck to Midsection Length – measure from neck at base of collar to midsection.
5. Midsection Circumference – measure around midsection at “waist,” in front of the “equipment” on a male dog
6. Top of Neck Circumference – measure around highest point of neck, directly behind the head.
7. Neck Length – measure from top of neck to base of collar.
8. Length of chest. The last measure should occur from the front of the chest plate, located between the front legs, to just behind the legs.

You should not add any extra to these measurements or the coat won’t fit right. In addition, if you have any questions about size, either ask the supplier or maker first, or read the instructions in any pattern before proceeding. Above all, see individual product items for recommendations made by specific manufacturers for sizing. The best determination can only be made if the actual pet is being measured and manufacturer recommendations are being followed.

Size is fairly easy to determine before you purchase or make a coat. It’s not so easy to adjust once the coat is bought or made. Weight should be used as a guideline only as it will not give an accurate length or width. Remember, that certain breeds e.g. greyhound, dachshund or an over or underweight dog may need a custom fit.

Look for coats designed with clean lines that are less likely to get caught on things. A well-fitting garment designed for the shape of your particular breed is best. Make sure the coat is well-fitting to help keep your dog out of trouble. In addition to never putting on a coat that’s constraining and too tight, never put on a loose fitting dog coat because things can get caught on the dog coat and get stuck through the loose opening and harm the dog. You don’t want a fallen tree branch acting like a barb on a fishhook and prevent your dog from getting loose.

Dog coats designed for the active hound should allow your dog to enjoy a full range of motion. Make sure the leg openings will not restrict your dog’s movement.

The Bottom Line:

The first time you put a coat on your dog he might resist it. After you dog has his coat on and all fastened up, if he resists, take him outside immediately so he doesn�t get overheated. Then get him involved in an activity that he loves to do like a game of catch or take him for a brisk walk. This activity will help to distract him from the coat, and at the same time he�ll be learning to associate wearing his new coat with a pleasurable experience or activity. Don�t forget to have some tasty dog treats available to reward and reinforce his good behavior.

Beware of sequined coats or anything that your dear dog might find interesting to chew on with hazardous result. Just like a child, make sure you are not providing a choking hazard on any stylish or functional dog coat you select. You know your pet best. If buttons are something to be attacked with glee, omit them! If flashes of glitter on the side of a coat are teeth targets, don’t get it.

A better closure method than buttons or snaps is Velcro. This self-sticking closure fabric will allow coats to be made adjustable for those pets for whom weight loss and gain are a constant battle. Additionally, you do not have to worry about buttons or snaps being chewed off and eaten – or even worse – on which your dog could choke.

Don’t forget the necessity for a slit at the back for a leash. Any provider of dog coats include a place for the harness or leash attachment to come through, but it needs to be kept in mind if you are making him a coat.

No matter what kind of coat you purchase for your favorite fur friend, make sure it’s
washable. There is not a pet in the world that wants to don a dirty slicker or coat!

As you’ve seen, there is an enormous variety from which to choose if you’re thinking about outfitting your canine companion with a coat to keep him warm, protected from the elements, or just to give him a stylish appearance. Dog coats may be found in pet stores, high end boutiques and department stores, feed and tack stores, and over the internet where you can shop the world. Prices range from just a few dollars to many hundreds, or even thousands for bejeweled designer coats from expensive boutiques. Determine your needs, take your time, choose carefully, and above all have fun!

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